CATEGORIES Celebrities and Controversy, Fandom, Home Entertainment, Harry Potter, Features, CinematicalThe long arm of Warner Bros. law strikes again. For many years now, the studio has been known for being quite strict with their projects. I'm not sure if any property felt that quite so much as the television world of Buffy; numerous fan sites were shut down during the run of the show, and post-finale, the uber popular Musical events were nixed. Now it's happening to fans of our favorite young, big-screen wizards.
The BBC reports that a woman planning a couple Harry Potter supper club nights for Halloween has been told to stop infringing on the studio's rights. Ms. Marmite Lover runs a small restaurant of sorts out of her home -- selling tickets and then making food for her guests, sometimes themed. For Halloween, she chose to make a Harry Potter-themed meal with a Diagon Alley entrance with password, a sorting hat, and food that includes butterbear and Fizzpop chocolate frogs. As part of their letter, Warner Bros. says: "We would therefore ask that you refrain from holding and/or offering for sale any tickets to the Harry Potter Nights and confirm to me by return email that the Harry Potter Nights will not go ahead as planned. Warner does not, of course, object to you holding a generic wizard/Halloween night at the Underground Restaurant."
She's since changed the name of the event, which is going on as planned, although I imagine Warner Bros. was probably expecting a little less Pottermania through the whole event (the Alley, hat, etc.). But how far should studios stretch their rights in cases like this?
If the studio didn't already have a history of ire with small-time fan recreations, one could reason this was all because of her charging money. But even then, it's not a Potter-based business or even anything big-time. This is just a woman running a small business entertaining people in her home and picking a holiday-appropriate theme. And perhaps some people could think it's a WB-sponsored event with the use of logos or artwork, although I think there's a clear divide between big events and supper clubs.
In the eyes of Warner Bros., there's a lot of NO in the fan world, and they've laid the smackdown on Potter fans before. But how far should they take it? Are they in the right with all of their demands on fans? Where should the line be drawn between fan adoration (which, quite frankly, is excellent advertising) and infringement? When people charge money? When events are a certain size? Should there be a new Dumbledore army against studio law?
Weigh in below.